Juan Manuel Sánchez - MaestroThursday, April 27, 2017
My online Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (RAE) defines a maestro (master/teacher) as:
Del lat. magister, -tri; la forma f., del lat. magistra.
1. adj. Dicho de una persona o de una obra: De mérito relevante entre las de su clase.
While in my time in Mexico City when I taught high school and at a Jesuit university I may have been called profe, teach, and variants but I was never called maestro. But a person of note, Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich did call me that, “maestro” and kissed me twice on each cheek when I handed him my portraits of him, backstage in the Orpheum. That is something I will never forget.
In Italy and sometimes in Argentina any man of authority is addressed as ingeniero or doctore. And here in Vancouver I have seen quite often the term Doctor in Optometry on the windows of stores that sell glasses. This latter term, for me must not be correct. You either go to a medical doctor (an ophthalmologist) who happens to be a surgeon or you trust your eyes to a technician. I always consult the former.
I have known a few maestros in my life. There was my philosopher/teacher in Mexico City, Ramón Xirau. There were my mentors (perhaps this is what I mean by that Spanish term maestro, Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C., my older friend Raúl Guerrero Montemayor, architect Abraham Rogatnick and in my youth in Mexico City Arno Brehme with whom I apprenticed for a month in his photography studio. And I must add American US Naval Captain Onofrio Salvia who gave me sage advice when I was attempting to rebel (futile it was and he pointed it out) to wait until I was in a position of authority to change what I did not like.
All those mentor/maestros even the one that called me that are all dead. The last remaining one was for me one of the biggest influences in my life. Before I met maestro Juan Manuel Sánchez, I considered myself to be a good photographer. After a few months of being in his presence I believe I became an artist.
Sánchez and his wife Nora Patrich), while they lived in Vancouver, were constantly in my thoughts. I called them every day. We visited, we collaborated on art projects and we drank mate. Slowly, and gracefully (lots of tact on him) Sánchez gave me an arts education. He gave me the reason why I did stuff that I did. He constantly made me push my boundaries. He never said no to any suggestion that I would make about something we should do together.
In short, Juan Manuel Sánchez was the last (he died in 2016) maestro I will ever have.
The only conflict I have I my mind is that at my age of 74, even if I am not quite the maestro, I have lots of experience and information in my head. But I am rarely consulted. I believe that all that will change when I am dead. By then it will be too late to ask me anything.
I think I am a better photographer today because I worked with and under Juan Manuel Sánchez.
The single most important transfer that came from him to me was the idea that to want to spend time resolving (a word he liked to use when he would first face a blank canvas) our idea of what a woman was (usually unclothed for both of us) was relevant, natural, healthy and necessary. Like Plato he was on the lookout for the essence of what all women are.
Just this time, I can assert that every moment I had with him was one that I savoured and I knew the value of his friendship. He did not have to die before I understood all that he did for me.
|El Maestro & Marina|
|2016 - Buenos Aires|